Category Archives: Mason CIty

Absolute Laziness

Absolute LazinessYet another “Ground Hog Day” with this snow and ice.  I wasn’t a bit happy finding there was a combination of sleet and snow having fallen overnight.  It was more than a struggle getting it off the front sidewalk at my office today.  After the sun came around and warmed up the pavement enough to get it melting, I finally got it all off, and happy for that after hearing we’re supposed to get another larger dumping of snow tomorrow.

Please don’t forget about my public open house tomorrow that’s located at 1034 Park Lane here in Mason City.  I’ll be there from 1:00 – 3:00 PM, so do tell everyone because it really is a very well built home in a much sought after district of our City.  As far as I’m concerned, it should’ve been sold right out of the gates, but I have to remember it did come on the market during the Holidays along with our exceptionally cold weather, for sure hasn’t been the least bit helpful in getting it sold.

Another one of my listings sold today which came as no surprise to me simply because of its condition.  There’s no question in my mind it’s one of the very few homes on the market so close to being spotlessly clean and maintenance free.  The real bonus for its future owners, is that the sellers have taken great care in making sure all their home’s mechanicals were updated and in tip-top working condition.  Even the agent that sold it mentioned how spotless the home was when showing it.  I couldn’t help but saying, “Now you know why I was insistent that you and your buyers remove your shoes before viewing it.”  The sellers are happy now, and so am I.

With the official 1st day of Spring less than a month away, I’m hoping all of you who’ve been thinking about having a garden this year, begin making plans now.  Since we live in an area where our growing season is shorter, it’s best to get ready for starting your tomato and pepper seeds indoors so they’ll be able to provide you with more fruit before the frost arrives this coming Fall.  When growing vegetables on a much larger scale when young, we used to start tomatoes, peppers, onions, cabbage and broccoli in what’s called a cold frame.  I’m sure if you do your own research online as to what they are, along with their purpose, you’ll find it a simple, yet very effective way to start seedlings.  The real plus of doing the cold frame method, is that the plants are more accustomed to whatever your soil type is and less likely to go into transplant shock when planting.

Oh I have to share another story that was told me today by my favorite “storyteller”.  She proceeded to tell me about a neighbor of hers named Vera who lived across the road from her when she lived on an acreage many years ago.  Just one particular incident she mentioned about Vera, who by the way lived in a home that had absolutely no upkeep or repairs having been done for years.  Vera’s personal hygiene was near non-existent to where she rarely if every bathed, would not clean her home and whenever eating something packaged, she’d discard the packages and wrappers on the floor to where there were mounds of it thru-out her house. Oh, and the mentioning of mice and rats nearly sent me reeling.  One day, Vera call my friend to ask that she be taken to the hospital because of a severe bowel problem she was having.

Since my storyteller was a young mother at the time, she had to bring her pre-schooler with her before picking up Vera.  Out came Vera in her ragged clothes, and when she got in the car, she must’ve dosed herself up with the cheapest perfume so to mask her body odor.

All the way to the hospital she prayed that her child wouldn’t cry out, “Mommy.  Something in this car really stinks!”  She got her to the hospital where they cleaned her up, got her bowel problem corrected, and back home to her squalid living arrangements she was delivered.

With my storyteller’s ability to create visuals, I was not only seeing Vera’s environment, but also remembering others I’d encountered over the years.  I’m still unable to understand how some people choose to live their lives way they do in their home environments.  It must a combination of denial, self-punishment, and absolute laziness.  What do you think?

Her Ice Man

Her Ice ManIt was a bit of a struggle getting about town today after last night’s additional layer of sleet which covered nearly everything.  I know the City workers were doing all they could to make the streets and public areas safe for driving and walking, but some of the businesses I had to visit had parking lots that looked like ice skating rinks.  After finally getting into a Downtown business from their parking lot without falling, I said to one of the clerks, “I think your penny-pinching landlord needs to get your parking lot sanded.”  I went on to say that when falling on such a hard and ice-covered surface, irregardless of one’s age, it would likely cause a break or sprain.  I think she must’ve passed my message on because not but an hour later when driving past that lot, I noticed a pickup truck out there spreading sand around.

Another of my appointments today was with the director of Prairie Place on 1st.  We talked about the units remaining, along with the number of people that’ve been showing interest, but not stepping forward to make offers.  We decided it’s the time of the year as well as this crazy weather that’s been holding them back.  During these bitterly cold months, most older people stick much closer to home and don’t venture out other than going to their banks, their doctor appointments, their churches, and their favorite grocery stores.  It may sound sad, but they’re perfectly happy with their weekly regimens.  Stability and safety is something nearly all seniors want in life while on the journey of their golden years.  Yes, there are those who like to travel, along with being involved in many circles, but for the most part, the bulk of them stick pretty close to home, and that’s just fine by them.

Knowing I’ve spoken about this before, I feel it once again appropriate tonight when saying most of our younger generation don’t realize how important churches are to a very many seniors living in our community.  For them it’s an extension of their even broader family because they grown to understand that they’re all part of a “family” of faith.  Throughout the week there is always something happening at the larger churches to where I believe for some, there are classes, workshops, bible studies, circle meetings, and the list goes on. For example, tomorrow is another Wednesday noontime musical event called, “Brown Bag Bach” that takes place each Wednesday all during Lent at Trinity Lutheran Church.  You see, there’s always something interesting going on at one of our City’s churches during the week.

Hopefully by the end of this week, I’ll have a new listing posted.  I spoke with the sellers today, and I believe they’re ready to list with me.  If it’s priced right, there’s no question in my mind that it’ll sell relatively quickly.  Another dear client stopped by my office yesterday to tell me he’d given my name to a friend of his who’s getting ready to sell his home which is in one of our sought after neighborhoods.  Now that so many of my listings are selling, I’m more aggressively going after new ones so to be ready for our spring market.

The above photo is one I took today of ice-covered branches.  You can see on the end of one of those branches, a formation that looks like a man holding out his arms and getting ready to jump.  Mother Nature did a great job in creating her ice man readying himself so to take flight.

Sun Breaking

Sun Breaking-1Not much was happening on my side of the fence the fence today, and with the weather the way it was, I wasn’t able to get something done that I’d set aside time to do, simply because of it being yet another windy day in North Iowa.  After looking at the weather forecast for tomorrow, I wasn’t a bit happy reading we’re to get sleet at two different intervals over the next 30+ hours, and it’s supposed to start this evening.  I hope everyone will be all the more careful when out on the streets and sidewalks tomorrow.

Early this morning I made a quick trip to one of my favorite out-of-town church services.  While on my way, I happened to notice how there were two layers of clouds in the sky.  One small fast moving group which was hanging very low, and the other being very high.  One stretch of those upper ones had the look of a wide band of a jet trail.  For sure, I’d never seen anything like that before.  I had my camera with me, so I pulled off several times to take a few of the sun and clouds.  North Iowa does possess some of the most striking rural landscapes.

Speaking of rural, I couldn’t help remembering how many of those old farmsteads there used to be in North Iowa, and now so very few of them remaining.  Seems everyone wants to save old barns, but what about those century old homes that seem to be vanishing all the faster.  As far as I’m concerned, there are too few farming families left.  Much of the land is either corporate owned or part of a family’s holdings which I’m sure have also been incorporated.  Yes, I do understand that the margins for profit on smaller farms isn’t enough to make a decent living, but why do nearly all the farmers have to plant corn or beans?  With our soil being some of the richest in the world, one would think an number of our remaining farmers would branch out and begin planting specialty crops.

You’d never believe me if I just threw it out there, but I actually read in a very old farming book that was printed back in the 1870′s that listed the types of crops most Iowans planted during that time.  You’d never guess that wheat was the major crop back then.  Soybeans are relatively new to Iowa farmers, and now that I’m thinking about it, I’m not so sure if they started planting it back in the 1960′s.  I’ll have to investigate.

Now just think what would happen if for some reason we had to become self-sufficient in say a year’s time.  We certainly don’t have enough farmers who’re willing to switch from row cropping to livestock.  There are even all the fewer city dwellers who haven’t a clue how to raise animals and certainly ignorant to the ways of processing them.  I’m hoping this 75 year migration of those children from farm families to city life isn’t going to come back and haunt us some day.  I’d like to see a return of a more balanced way of life in our fair State, and then be true to our slogan, “Iowa. A place to grow.”

Tomorrow morning I’m going to have make a stern phone call to a Realtor who left the front door unlocked on one of my listings.  I cringe every time when getting a call from a seller regarding a door standing unlocked or lights left on.  No matter how much I remind agents, they still don’t seem to understand the importance of making sure a home remains in the same state, just as it was before they opened the front door.  I’m convinced much of it is from being distracted by buyers, which is why I nearly always go back and make sure all lights are off and doors locked.

The above photo is one of those I took while on my way to church this morning.  I hope you like it as much as I do. I’m naming it “Sun Breaking”.

Better With Age

Better With AgeWith the wind blowing out of the north today, certainly kept the temps low enough to where we didn’t have any more snowmelt.  At least the sun was shining brightly which always helps.  One of my dear friends who lives out of State mentioned how extra-gloomy her winter has been due to the excessive number of over-cast days they’ve been having.  One of my dear clients fully agreed with me while talking about how we seem to be experiencing all the more wind than we’ve had in years past.  For her, each year it seems to be all the more windy.  I couldn’t agree more fully, yet I still don’t understand why our meteorologists haven’t talked about these changes.  Just think how many tall trees in our area that’ve been either topped-off or completely blown down from the winds these past years.  Those straight-liners coming out of the west have been the most destructive.

The hours of my day went flying by quite quickly with all my scheduled errands around the City.  One of my stops was at a home so to get some exterior and interior photos taken.  What an exceptionally comfortable home!  After finishing up with my room shots, I told the owner it was no surprise it sold before I could even my get photos taken.

Now if some if these homebuilders would use that floor plan as a new construction, it would certainly sell because it wouldn’t be like any of those monster homes that some builders think to be still in style.  They need to get it in their heads that tastes are changing–especially with our younger crowd.  In spite of what some believe, we don’t have that many people living in North Iowa with incomes high enough to support such monstrous monthly mortgage payments.

One of my clients whom I’ve done business with for at least 15 years or more stopped by for a chat, and while talking about this and that, we somehow got on the subjects of respect and trust.  Oh Mercy!  That was quite the debate regarding how and when respect and trust is a given, and when in most cases in today’s society it must be earned.  Every society has mores, or should I say hard-coded traditions regarding interactions within families, along with the general public.  In the old days, we were taught to respect all our elders, but what happens when we’re fully aware of many whose own failures within their families as well as society, far exceed that which even those having ever-forgiving liberal mindsets would consider forgivable, and or acceptable?

These past years I’ve grown to understand, as well as embracing the concept that in most cases, respect along with trust is something that must be hard-earned.  Writing this just now, reminded me of that old Smith-Barney commercial where that old gentleman says, “We make our money the old-fashioned way, because we earn it.”  In these fire-storm times, we must be all the more careful whenever blindly considering someone trustworthy as well as worthy of respect.  What I believe is the driving force of these changes, is the devil-may-care attitude of all those many regarding the acquisition of wealth.  It’s unfortunate that most are now re-aligning their generations-old beliefs regarding family/social mores, but times have changed, and adaptation is all the more necessary for survival.

Since having several hours free this afternoon, I decided it was time to give the wooden floors in my office a good scrub.  It took a bit longer than normal due to the extra work needed to get that tracked in and then dried-on snowmelt junk removed.  After they were dry, I stood back with admiration and was again reminded how those 120+ year old floors can still glow with such a deeply rich beauty which could never be copied with today’s flooring technologies.  I’m ever-thankful I made the decision years ago to have them re-finished.  Some things really do get better with age, don’t you think?

Covered All Sides

Covered All Sides-1Alas the warmer weather is starting to take hold in North Iowa so we can get rid of much of our lingering ice and snow.  I’m sure once the old stuff is melted, any additional snow here on out will be short lived.

I had another “soft landing” closing today on a home which had a number of offers on it over the months, but couldn’t seem to get together on price.  I’m just happy the sellers are content with what it sold for so they can now move on with their lives.  Since the ground is still frozen solid, after about 20 minutes of work, I did manage to get my sold sign out of their yard before going to closing.

While waiting for the buyers to finish up with their side, the sellers and I happened to get on the subject of the recent school shootings in Florida.  It seems these incidents are becoming all the more frequent across the United States to where I’m convinced there’s something very wrong with the way in which children are being reared.  Yes, there have always been those “bad seeds” throughout history, but in these times, there appears to be all those many more of them.

What creeped me out a bit was the seller saying she believes there are one possibly two students in our City’s school system who have that type of evil lurking within, while saying it’s almost as though you can see that devilment in their eyes along with they way they carry themselves.  Now think about it and tell the truth when I ask, “Have you ever had an exceptionally uncomfortable feeling about a small few when crossing paths with them?”  It’s almost as though they radiate evil.

On the flip side, I just happened to hear several days ago about recent happenings in the life of a young man.  Not so many years ago I encountered him at a closing of a home I had listed. Just sitting there and casually noticing his demeanor, I soon discovered he to be one of society’s “radiators”.  At the time while driving away from the bank, I thought to myself, “He’s going to be a magnet for some chosen young lady out of the crowd and reel her in by hook, line, and sinker.”  Without making any more clarifications on his present situation, all I can say is that he married VERY well.  Don’t ask me why I believed he possess that ability from one casual encounter, other than I’d say he had that “look” and mannerism of a gold digger.  Hearing about his recent rise in socio-economic status, I couldn’t help but remember what an old Jewish businessman once said to me which went something like, “Be sure to marry for money, because you’ll always learn to love them.”

Since since hearing the weather is supposed to be markedly warmer this weekend, I do hope you all are spreading the word about the open house I’ll be having on Saturday at 422 S. Tennessee Place here in Mason City.  It’s really a great buy.

Late this afternoon I ran into a young man who has a full time job, but also does freelance writing on the side.  He announced that he’s getting more work and hopes some day to be a full-time journalist.  I congratulated him, but also shook my finger at him while telling him that if he’s going to get into reporting news, he must pretend as though his subject is in the middle of a four-way intersection, and be sure to visit all four “corners”, then knowing he’s covered all sides of the subject before sending his findings to print.  He actually thanked me for my advise, and I could tell that when I said it, there was a sort of illumination that was taking place within.  So glad I had the opportunity to visit with him and relay my encouragements.

Fake News

Fake News-1When looking at the calendar today, I was very surprised to find that Valentine’s Days is on the same day as Ash Wednesday, and if you remember me mentioning several days ago, Easter Sunday falls on the 1st of April which is April Fool’s Day.  Now that’s what I call a real coincidence.  Seems we’re finding all the more creepy and sometimes curious happenstances in today’s world.  I hope it’s not some sort of omen warning us that the days and months ahead are going to be any more turbulent.

Most of my free time today was spent finishing up on my yearly accounting, and certainly glad to be over with it for another year.  Once again, I was reminded of a few snide comments made to me over the years about how cheap and easy it is to run a real estate office.  After reviewing all of last year’s expenses, I dare say those same people would have jaw-drops if ever having seen them.  And of course, most have no idea how many hours in a week an active full-time agent racks up over the course of a year.  Since Realtors don’t charge by the hour, there’ve been a few times when working with buyers where I’d say after walking away from the closing table of the homes they purchased,  I’d dare not begin counting the number of hours spent with them for fear I’d be in the  negative.  Ok maybe to be on the positive side, we’ll go with $2.00 an hour without counting mileage.  Again, I’m not complaining, but rather being perfectly frank about having my chosen profession to that of being a Realtor.

Just to see what’s available in today’s market in North Iowa, I went into my MLS program and did a few price range searches.  Just as I’d suspected, there’s definitely a real shortage of homes in key price ranges.  I also noticed of late that there are all the more rental barons purchasing lower priced homes.  Now if the stock market continues to be as volatile as it has been, we’ll be seeing people taking cash out of their portfolios and investing in safer bets like real estate.  I’m still surprised some of our rental barons don’t let loose of their better properties in these times because they’d fetch a pretty good return on equity for them.  Just remember, there’s a great difference between being needy and greedy.  As my dear mother would say, “For some, enough is never enough.”, and believe me, I know the names of those “never enough” people living in our midst.

About a week ago, I stopped at the grocery store to pick up some crackers so to have something to munch on during these cold days.  On the shelf with all the other boxes and brands, I found one called “Annie’s” that spoke about being all natural with all kinds of folksy down-home sayings on it, so I figured I give them a try.

When I got back to the office and opened the box for a taste, I wasn’t the least bit impressed considering they were supposed to be all natural and made by a woman who started that company out of her kitchen, or so it appeared.  Over these days, I finally forced myself to finish them, and when looking closer at the finer print on the box, I found that it was packaged in California.  Of course curious me went online to do a little digging.

After spending about ten minutes of crawling around their website, I found written in a very inconspicuous area, “General Mills”.  It appears that company sold out to corporate, and General Mills was clever enough to keep their folksy branding.  Now I know why those crackers tasted like every other cracker I’ve eaten.

After seeing that, I’m now all the more wary of food items that are being touted as “all natural”.  When thinking about it, I’m wondering just how regulated and inspected foods we’re buying really are.  You can imagine all the baiting and switching that companies have opportunities to do without some “all natural”  inspector looking over their shoulders?  And believe me, there’s a whole lot more money to be made when selling something being marketed as “All Natural”.  It makes me just a wee bit angry just thinking about how many millions of Americans are being duped by all those many company’s false advertisement. Naughty, naughty monkeys!

Along with false advertising and fake news, we now have cloaked branding.  What next?

When the Snow’s Gone

When the Snow's Gone-1The first and foremost job I had today was to go over to St. Paul Lutheran Church and play for their 9:00 a.m. service.  I went early enough so to have time to run thru all the music I was to play.  I chided myself after playing the first piece for not getting over there sometime last week to re-familiarize myself with their piano.  Unless one is exceptionally gifted on a keyboard, each and every instrument requires some getting used to before being able to comfortably play it.  In spite of my having an upright piano I use for practicing, it’s enough different,  just as every other make and model of pianos are.  It’s sort of like stepping into someone else’s vehicle and driving it off to the grocery store.  You know you can drive it, but it’s just enough different.

All went relatively well with the exception of my not paying close enough attention to the order of their service.  I found that I’d nearly forgotten to play a song when it’s time arrived.  Believe me, I jumped out of my pew and over to their piano like greased lightening.  What made me all the more angry with myself was that I’d started it in a different key signature.  Thank goodness I migrated over to the appropriate key without having to stop and start all over.   I definitely learned several lessons today that are now permanently hard-coded into my memory.

They really are a delightful group of people over at St. Paul, and I certainly don’t have a problem playing for them from time to time.  What I’ve found to be touching, is that they’re all so personable.  One of them mentioned before their services began how surprised she was to see how early Easter will arrive this this year.  I mentioned that I figured as much since Ash Wednesday is this week.  I can’t ever remember Easter Sunday being on April Fool’s Day.  Do you? Seeing how our winter weather doesn’t seem to want to warm a little, it wouldn’t surprise me if we still have snow on the ground that day.

I’m sure many of you are watching the Olympic Games which recently started.  I normally watch them, but as I said before, I’m not going to pay any attention to it this time around due to all the political maneuverings that are taking place this time around.  If it’s not the Russians, its the North Koreans.  I’m still very disappointed with the Olympic Committee for allowing the Russians to play considering all the doping they did with their athletes at the last Olympic Games held in Sochi.  Looks like it’s all about money and power instead of fairness.  Many believe the Russian athletes are getting a bad rap, but why aren’t people talking about all those many athletes from around the world who played fairly last time and lost because the winning “decks” were stacked against them by the Russians?  If I were one of those Russian athletes who won unfairly, I’d be exceptionally ashamed of myself all the way into perpetuity.

While working this afternoon on another project, I wasn’t surprised to receive several calls from Realtors asking about the availability of several of my listings.  Both times I had to say, “Sorry, it’s sold.”

Before St. Paul’s services started, a gentleman whom I know mentioned that he and his wife are causally looking to “bump up” in housing, but can’t seem to find anything in their price range.  He’s finding that selling his home won’t be a problem, but finding one they like in their price range is going to be the hard part.  It looks like there’s going to be another shortage this year with homes in certain price ranges.  Let’s just hope the market starts opening up when the snow’s gone. Do have a pleasant evening.